Dodgers place Smith on 7-day IL with concussion symptoms

April 16th, 2023

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers star catcher reported concussion-like symptoms during the team’s off-day on Thursday. Smith initially passed the concussion test, but the catcher was still dealing with symptoms.

After sitting out the last two games, the Dodgers officially placed Smith on the seven-day concussion IL on Sunday. The move is retroactive to April 13, meaning Smith will be eligible to return to the Dodgers’ lineup on Thursday against the Cubs.

To replace Smith on the active roster, the Dodgers signed catcher Austin Wynns to a Major League deal. The Dodgers transferred right-hander Alex Reyes to the 60-day injured list to make room for Wynns on the 40-man roster.

When did Smith suffer the injury and will he return on April 20?

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Smith took a couple of foul tips to the mask during the team’s series in San Francisco earlier this week. Smith self-reported symptoms during the team’s off-day on Thursday after feeling “foggy” according to Roberts.

Roberts said Smith passed the concussion test, but the symptoms remained. After running some more tests Saturday, the team decided to place Smith on the concussion IL.

Smith is eligible to return on April 20 and the Dodgers are hoping to get the star catcher back in the lineup by the time they take the field at Wrigley Field. But his return will be dependent on how he feels and if he’s able to get on the team plane by the time the team leaves on Wednesday. Roberts said he wasn’t sure if this was Smith’s first concussion.

“I just don’t want to add any extra expectations on Will or the training staff right now,” Roberts said.

Why did the Dodgers sign Wynns?

Wynns has big league experience with the Orioles and Giants, which is something that appealed to the Dodgers in what could be a short stint with the team until Smith returns.

The 32-year-old was designated for assignment by the Giants earlier this week and has a career .609 OPS with 12 homers.

Were internal options considered?

The Dodgers have a few options down in the Minors, but with Smith not expected to miss an extended period of time, adding them to the 40-man roster and possibly have to DFA later in the season didn’t make any sense to Los Angeles.

Patrick Mazeika and Hunter Feduccia were names thrown around by the Dodgers. Top prospect Diego Cartaya, who is on the team’s 40-man roster, wasn’t considered for a promotion according to Roberts.

Cartaya just jumped to Double-A to start the season and is still a few seasons from being ready to produce at the big league level.

“Diego’s off to a good start,” Roberts said. “He needs to play, so Diego was not an option.”

How will the playing time be split up at catcher in Smith’s absence?

Austin Barnes made his third consecutive start on Sunday and he’ll be the Dodgers’ starting catcher until Smith returns. Wynns will catch Monday’s game against the Mets and Barnes will be back behind the plate on Tuesday when Clayton Kershaw takes the mound.

With Wednesday being a day game, the Dodgers will wait and see who starts the series finale against the Mets.

Who needs to step up without Smith in the lineup?

Losing Smith is a huge blow to the Dodgers' lineup, which is still struggling to get going early in the season. Smith has been the Dodgers’ best hitter through 15 games. In his absence, the Dodgers will need Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman to break out of their recent mini-slumps. They’ll also need Max Muncy to keep swinging a hot bat.

“To not have Will in the lineup, it’s a big blow,” Roberts said. “I think that if you look at a lot of our guys -- again, this is 15 games -- it's been very inconsistent, and Will is a consistent performer. So yeah, we need all of our guys to show some consistency, that'd be great."